Pittsylvania County, Virginia seems to have been a hot-spot, during the course of the Civil War, for a number of little known Confederate manufactured arms.
Danville was the location of two Confederate arms making companies, Keen, Walker & Company and Read & Watson.
Just a few miles to the north, in Pittsylvania Courthouse, Bilharz, Hall & Company would be established.
Keen, Walker and Bilharz, Hall would both produce limited quantities of unique breechloading carbines.
Read & Watson would spend their energies altering pre-war US made breechloading Hall rifles for Confederate use.
The Keen, Walker “Tilting Breech” carbine was a percussion ignition carbine that had a 22 inch round, .54 caliber iron rifled barrel. From outward appearances, it looks quite similar to the 1st Model Maynard carbine, with a very narrow, flat wood stock, small frame and a round barrel without a forend. The lever that operates the action of the carbine, and doubles as its trigger guard, also has a distinctly “Maynard” like appearance.
The operation of the gun is more like that of the Perry carbine, as lowering the lever tilts the breechblock down in the rear, raising the front of the breechblock and exposing the chamber for loading.
One has to believe that these characteristics were the influences of which lead to the Keen,Walker design.
The first delivery of the Keen, Walker & Company Tilting Breech Carbines was on 5/10/1862, 101 of the carbines submitted to the Danville Arsenal. A second delivery of 100 carbines 9/3/1862 and 81 more 9/16/1862. With a production of only 282 of the guns.
The Keen, Walker & Company ceased to exist in 1863.
See my previous post on the Bilharz, Hall carbine. HERE